3.6 Magnitude Earthquake Rattles Zion National Park

by Victoria Santiago

On Tuesday (12/21) a small earthquake was measured near Zion National Park in Utah. The quake was reported by the University of Utah Seismograph Stations. It happened around 3:30 p.m., with the epicenter being only five miles from Zion National Park. The quake took place 22 miles east of Hurricane, where people reported feeling the quake.

According to the Utah Division of Emergency Management, there was were no damages or injuries caused by the quake. However, a small aftershock could follow.

A news release published after the quake stated, “A total of 8 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater have occurred within 16 mi of the epicenter of this event since 1962. The largest of these events was a magnitude 3.4 on March 11, 1989, 3.9 mi E of Colorado City, AZ.” The earthquake reported this week had a magnitude of 3.6. For those that felt the quake, a survey is available on the U.S. Geological Survey website.

Oregon Experiences 40 Earthquakes in One Day

Earlier this month, Oregon was rattled by over 40 earthquakes in one day. As you can imagine, residents of the state were worried by the continuous quakes. Geologists, on the other hand, were intrigued by this seismic activity. Fortunately, all of the quakes took place off of the coast of Oregon, so they weren’t felt by many people. The magnitude of the quakes ranged from 3.5 to 5.8. Out of all of the quakes and aftershocks combined, only a dozen of them had a magnitude higher than 5.0.

The majority of the quakes took place about 200 to 250 miles off the coast of Newport, Oregon. Although they took place in the ocean, there was no threat of a tsunami happening. The quakes took place along the Blanco Fracture Zone. There’s a high amount of activity in the area. Over the last five years, there have been 49 quakes with magnitudes over 4.5.

Earthquakes are frequent along this zone because Oregon is close to moving fault lines. There are other zones nearby that pose more of a threat than the Blanco Fracture Zone, but less activity occurs there. Chiefly, tsunamis will generally not be a concern for any quakes coming out of Blanco. The crust of the earth is broken up a lot in that area, so any seismic activity quickly dissipates.

Oregon Faces Potentially Catastrophic Quakes in the Future

One of the other zones nearby is called the Cascadia Subduction Zone. This zone is where the Juan de Fuca plate sits below the North American plate. Since this zone is in the direct area of two tectonic plates, huge earthquakes have the potential to happen here.

According to geologists, there’s a 37% chance that a quake with a magnitude of 7.1 or higher could happen within the next 50 years. If that were to happen, it would cause a catastrophic tsunami up to 100 feet in height. Thankfully, for now, most of the state’s earthquake activity is coming from the Blanco zone instead. No tsunamis or mega-quakes for now.